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Hall County school board prepares for fall E-SPLOST referendum
Tax on ballot Nov. 3
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Hall County school leaders are finalizing a list of projects that could be funded by a sales tax up for a vote in November.

Currently, the special purpose local option sales tax for education puts a penny of every dollar spent in Hall County toward local school systems’ capital projects, including new buildings, renovations, equipment and land.

The E-SPLOST referendum on the ballot Nov. 3 involves three school systems: Gainesville City Schools, Buford City Schools and the Hall County School District, according to Hall Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett.

“I’m hoping to talk to the city folks about it tomorrow,” Lovett said Monday. “We’re in the process of finalizing the construction projects we would do, the list of items that we would include, the cost estimates and the resolution. We then determine how much bonds we want to issue out of this money.”

Bonds are used to fund capital projects in advance, meaning officials do not have to wait for taxes to roll in before beginning projects. When they do receive the sales tax receipts, the funding is used to pay back the bond.

“You have that ability, if you put it in the referendum that you’re going to issue bonds,” Lovett said. “...You can get money up front that will help you get those projects underway.”

Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said he expects the tax, if passed by voters, will generate between $25 and $35 million per year over five years for the three systems.

“Everybody has to come up with a separate list,” said Lovett, who estimates Hall’s list will be complete by the end of the month. “...We need to do that very soon, and then when our attorney gets all of that, he’ll draft a referendum, resolutions, notice of election and all the other things that go with that.”

The current E-SPLOST ends in September 2017 and will generate about $100 million for the county school district, according to Schofield.

At Hall’s school board work session Monday night, Schofield and the board reviewed the projects already funded by E-SPLOST over the years, including the purchase of 802 acres for 10 new facilities, 23 additions to existing facilities and an additional 1.5 million square feet of space.

Aaron Turpin, Hall’s executive director for technology, said the district is developing a website to share the results of E-SPLOST and remind the public what the tax receipts can and cannot be used for, as the funds can only be used for capital improvements.

“This penny spent going on — what would it be now, 18 years? It has allowed us to become debt-free, and it has allowed us to build 10 new schools,” Schofield said. “It’s the first time in 50 years we’ve been debt-free, so I think it’s been a wonderful investment in technology and infrastructure.”

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